Wall Street looking west towards Trinity Church
Exactly eighteen years ago I was heading home from an evening meeting in the Bronx. It was part of a series of five meetings, one in each of the five boroughs of New York. I don't remember the dates of the other meetings, but I doubt if I will forget being in the Bronx on September 10. And exactly eighteen years ago tomorrow I stepped out of the subway in the spot above. There was no police presence and nothing was built to deter car bombs. I'd gotten off the subway here hundreds of times, but this day was very different. When I looked west to Trinity Church I remember seeing a million pieces of paper flying in the sky in back of the church and the sky was filled with smoke. I ran the three blocks to my office, not sure of what had exactly happened and the morning of September 11, 2001 unfolded.
There are infinite tiny details of the morning and the days that followed that stay frozen in amber in my mind. Perhaps my most vivid memory is standing at the window with colleagues on the second floor of our building at 2 Broadway and seeing the sky go dark at 10:30 a.m. when the North Tower of the Trade Center collapsed. We had been listening to the radio and learned about the Pentagon and flight 93 crashing. We realized this wasn't an isolated terrible accident. After that our building was evacuated and we all began the long trek home.
I walked through the Lower East Side and up First Avenue and then turned on 42nd Street and left my friend, Sandy, at Grand Central Station, where she was able to get a train home to Westchester. I continued to walk west and on Eighth Avenue, somewhere in the West 50s I caught a bus -- yes, buses were running uptown -- to a friend's apartment on West 66th Street, where I could begin to make phone calls and let family and friends know that I was alive. I had resisted getting a cell phone, so no one could reach me. One thing I will remember about the long walk home was turning around and seeing smoke rising from where the Twin Towers had stood. I couldn't begin to believe that they were no longer there.
This is my eleventh post about the worst day of my life and the worst day of many of our lives. I want to link back to other posts I've done about September 11 for those who are new friends of Buttercupland.
I started writing this post about an hour ago. By this time eighteen years ago I was home from a rainy night in the Bronx. My first commitment of the day was a budget meeting at 10:00 am and I decided I would go in to the office a little late the next morning. I'd worked late and the next day was just an ordinary Tuesday in September. Of course, it was the least ordinary day I would ever know.